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Supporters of Arizona's immigration law say the Obama administration should be going after local jurisdictions that have proclaimed themselves relatively safe places for illegal immigrants.

Critics of the Obama administration's decision to sue Arizona over its new law to control illegal immigration accuse the government of overlooking a more obvious target: the dozens of cities that called themselves a "sanctuary" for immigrants.

"Everyone has noticed the hypocrisy of the government going after Arizona and ignoring the sanctuary cities," said Bob Dane, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. "They have it exactly backwards. Arizona is applying federal law, and sanctuary cities are violating it."

Kris Kobach, the Kansas law professor who drafted the Arizona law, said he particularly objected to cities that have a policy of freeing criminals who are illegal immigrants without notifying federal immigration officials. "It's pretty clear they are breaking the law. And they are doing it with impunity," he said.

He pointed to a provision Congress added to the immigration laws in 1996. It says state and local agencies and their officials "may not prohibit or in any way restrict" their employees from "sending" information about a person's immigration status to the agency then known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

But Congress did not set a penalty for violations. And since then, neither Republican or Democratic administrations have taken legal action to enforce it, according to government officials and immigration lawyers.

-- David G. Savage, Tribune Washington Bureau
July 25, 2010

See also She sells sanctuary.


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